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Aurora Borealis Crystals
Aurora Borealis crystals are one of the most attractive crystals featuring in many sparkling1950's vintage necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and earrings . An example of an aurora borealis crystal necklace can be seen in the photo below:
Swarovski and Aurora Borealis Crystal
AB is the abbreviation for this special finish which was applied to rhinestones and beads in the early 1950's to make them appear more radiant. The finish was given the name Aurora Borealis, taken from the phenomena sometimes seen in the skies of Northern countries known as the Northern Lights. The same rainbows of colour can also be seen radiating from a glass rhinestone or bead that has been treated with this famous coating.
During the early years of the 1900's, Swarovski's exclusive process of cutting and polishing crystal had a strong effect on design. The fashion world and experts in crystal began a mutually beneficial creative collaboration.
Around the middle of the 1950's Christian Dior turned to Manfred Swarovski, grandson of the founder of Swarovski, when he was searching for a new style for crystal and jewellery to complement his New Look--delicately feminine clothes for the new woman of a new era. Where fancy stones and chatons were popular suddenly cut beads became the in thing.
It was a scientific process created for Swarovski's optical mechanisms that started the idea for a crystal stone. Under the direction of Dr. H. Schmied, technicians in the lab had invented a blue metallic coating for optical lenses. Manfred saw the special ornamental effect and began to apply it to his stones. He experimented with the vaporisation of metal, coating the lower facets of each stone with a micro-thin metal sheet. The new stone had a special metal coating that had a high shine and a kaleidosopic visual effect that was similar to the look of petrol on water. It proved extremely popular and was a great boost for the Swarovski company after they had been unable to supply jewellers with their high quality crystal during the war years.
At first only the wealthy could afford the jewellery made with the stones and beads by the designers, but it was later licensed for use by other manufacturers such as Corocraft for their Vendome line and was very popoular with women in the 1950's. Later on more and more plastic beads crept in and the jewellery became less expensive .The glory days of Aurora Borealis fell away over time and, by the mid-1960's, it had disappeared. AB vintage jewellery is now popular again with quality pieces from the 1950's being the most prized.
For more information see our articles "Vintage Guide" , " The Allure of Vintage", "Collecting Brooches and Pins", and "Costume Jewellery - Overview"